Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) had a heated exchange with Coca-Cola’s Global Vice President for Human Rights, Paul Lalli, over the company’s refusal to acknowledge genocide and other human rights abuses in China at the same time they vocally opposed election reform laws in the United States.
“So your company said at the time that we will continue to stand up for what is right in Georgia and across the United States,” Cotton said. “So are we to take from that statement … that Coca-Cola will not stand up for what is right outside the United States?”
“No, Senator, we stand up for what is right across the world,” Lalli responded. “We apply the same human rights principles in the United States that we do across the world.”
“Do you believe that the Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against the Uyghur people?” Cotton asked.
“We’re aware of the reports of the State Department on this issue as well,” Lalli said, dodging the question. “There are other departments of the U.S. government. We respect those reports. They continue to inform our program, as do reports from other from civil society.
“You see, this is what I’m talking about,” Cotton stated. “Under questioning … every single one of you refused to say a single word … that will cost you one bit of market share inside of mainland China. Mr. Lalli, for instance, you were asked if Coca-Cola would call for the IOC [International Olympic Committee] to delay the Chinese Olympics to give a chance for them to be rebid or for China to stop its genocide against its own people and you said that Coca-Cola … ‘doesn’t have a say.'”
He continued: “So, can you tell me why Coca-Cola doesn’t have a say in whether it sponsors the genocide Olympics next year, but it does have a say and how the state of Georgia runs its election laws?”
“Senator, what I stated was that we do not have a say in the selection of the host city, nor on whether an Olympics is postponed or relocated,” Lalli responded.
“Yeah, so you don’t, but you could just make a statement,” Cotton said. “Your CEO could saddle up the same moral high horse that he got on when Georgia passed its election law and write a letter to the IOC … If he’s an American citizen, that’s his right under our Constitution.”
China has been committing genocide and other human rights atrocities against Uyghur Muslims and other groups for years.
Radio Free Asia reported, China has been conducting a “mass internment campaign … government-mandated homestays, a mass birth-prevention strategy, the forcible transfer of Uyghur children to state-run facilities, [and] the eradication of Uyghur identity.”
According to a research report presented by Radio Free Asia, eight ethnic Uyghurs who survived China’s concentration camps described how extreme physical and psychological violence were used to extract confessions. Three survivors witnessed fellow detainees die.
According to BBC News, “Women in China’s ‘re-education’ camps for Uighurs have been systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured.”
Tursunay Ziawudun, who spent nine months in one of China’s concentration camps, told BBC News that “women were removed from the cells ‘every night’ and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.”
Cotton’s round of questioning reached a dead end of sorts after Lalli attempted to explain that the company doesn’t make decisions based on host locations. They simply “support and follow the athletes, wherever they may go,” he said.
“Yeah, no, I’ve heard your talking points, and I’m tired of hearing them, Mr. Lalli,” Cotton cut in. “I’m asking you a simple question: why is it that Coca-Cola will opine on Georgia’s election laws, but not on the genocide Olympics?”
“As I’ve stated, Georgia is our home, it’s where many of our employees live and work, and we’re most engaged on public policies here in the U.S.,” Lalli replied.
Cotton interrupted: “I think the answer is you’re afraid of the CCP. You’re afraid of what they will do to your company.”